From Ashes to Artisan Success:
My story is one of struggle and rejuvenation.
It’s one, like many of you, that has been hard. A story of a life that developed very differently then I ever thought would happen to me.
As a young child I was a creative soul. And my mother encouraged that creativity. She and my grandfather built us a boat that would flip over to be a table and me and my brothers and sisters had endless hours of adventure and creativity on, in and around that boat-table. We spent our childhood outside. Exploring the woods, and going on adventures of our dreams. I dreamed of being a national geographic photographer. Or a girl scuba diver just like Jacques Cousteau.
As I grew up I developed a talent in music and played the percussion instruments. Math, science, art and nature have always had a strong connection in my soul. By college I had narrowed my career goals to being an physical artist. I went to Rhode Island School of Design and majored in ceramics. To me ceramics melds together the essence of those pursuits. Mathematical recipes made of science that help develop your creative mind from nature’s fire and mud.
But as with many of us artists I got out of school and soon realized that being a financially successful artist was a daunting task. Art school doesn’t teach business and I was fully unprepared for the entrepreneurial world. At that time I had a dog with some severe behavioral issues and in my search for his care and my search for a financially stable job I entered the realm of dog training and dog care.
I left behind my art world and learned to train (an artistic endeavor in its own right) and pursued jobs in the dog care industry. Over the next ten years I worked in veterinary hospitals, kennels, training facilities and even at the esteemed New York Dog Spa & Hotel under entrepreneur, Dale Van Pamelen and internationally known groomer, Jorge Bendersky. I excelled in dog care and training and at the encouragement of Dale pursued my free spirit by opening my own business first in dog training and then a complete holistic retail venture for pets called The Furry Nation. For eight years I strived to learn the in and outs of business ownership. I loved the work I was doing, helping people care for their dogs, but I still struggled at business and my soul always desired to be somewhere else.
Then in October of 2015 my world broke apart. Just one month earlier I had lost my dog, Kayla after almost 16 years together. I was deep in the grief of death and as me and my partner came home from the store late one Sunday night we were stopped at the beginning of our street to a mass of fire and emergency trucks.
I remember jumping out of the truck and running towards the house. Someone (a fireman) grabbed me and said you can’t go in. It’s too dangerous. It’s all gone. Our brand new windows were all broken on the front lawn. Smoke was pouring out of the attic. Flashing and spinning lights lit up the neighborhood as I stood shaking in the street. As we learned later my house had an electrical fire from the new heating system in the basement and by the time a neighbor called it in all four floors from the basement to the attic had been engulfed in flames. What hadn’t been burned was destroyed by water and before I knew it I was sitting in a van from the Red Cross with them asking me questions that I never expected to be asked.
I struggled to process my new life while navigating the mortifying insurance claim process. In the end after I sold my condemned home, paid off the mortgage and begged for money from the insurance company I barely had anything to begin again. During this time my business was struggling as well. Several competitors entered into an already saturated market and I was using too much of the profits from the business to try and start a new life. The stores were failing and my ability to process losing them on top of losing my home made me hold on way too long.
Finally in March of 2017 I closed The Furry Nation stores. My whole life that I had been building for two decades was gone. I didn’t know where I would go and how I would pay my bills let alone buy food. With what little money I did get from the insurance company I had purchased a 1977 GMC motorhome. I had chosen to do this so that I would always have a place to sleep and a home for my dogs. So with my partner I took off to explore the country and try and find work.
The first summer I spent just outside Yellowstone National Park and the Gallatin National Forest. I was camp host at a campground in the area. It made merely enough money to buy food but I thrived in the wilderness and began to repair my heart and soul. I couldn’t create ceramics without my studio so expanded my artistic endeavors to a new medium, jewelry weaving. My creative side appeared again. At first in little hints but quickly it grew and flourished with the season. By the time the summer was up I knew I needed to get back to my art and pursue the only thing I ever really wanted to do. Create beautiful things for people to love.
I knew that being an artist, a creative maker who designs pieces of beauty to grow the soul of the world, is what I was made to do. And using nature and dreams is where my works get their inspiration. So over the past year I have thrived to create pieces of beauty and strived to learn about business. Through the torment of losing my life I have been able to see that the earth was telling me to get back to my true calling. This recession has made a lot of people lose their jobs, their stores and their lives. To return to nature and rejuvenate our souls is something we must do. We have to learn to define our lives outside of the confines of this capitalistic society. We must learn to live a life about love and strength and calling. That this life isn’t about struggle. It’s about rising out of struggle to our true power. It’s about love. I have found so much strength and love in me over the last several years. More then I even thought I had. I create to explore nature. I create to be my best self. I create to bring each person near me beauty and strength and love.
I have also found so much love and beauty in others. I have found so many other people who are searching for themselves. Who search for their connection to others and their connection to nature and mother earth. I’ve met many people who need to repair their souls. Who have risen out of struggles much greater than my own and who are working to find meaning in their existence. I hope that by through my creations I can help to rejuvenate people and reveal their true strong beautiful adventurous souls.